Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Source of Inspiration, Peace and Power

For each artist, the process of finding new inspiration is a journey. Sometimes inspiration can be found on one's doorstep and sometimes one has to travel far and wide to uncover it. For me, ideas often flood my brain like overloaded electric circuits, and I have to filter my ideas against the constraints of time, technique and consistency with my ongoing practice. But I try to stay open to what other artists can offer and with that in mind, I undertook a trip to Grimsby to visit with Samuel Thomas, aboriginal bead work artist. If you read my blog in November, I profiled Samuel Thomas and his work after attending a beading workshop at the Royal Ontario Museum. He currently has a show on called "Power of Place - Strength of Being" on at the Grimsby Museum until March 31, 2010.

The show opens with the following statement:

As the pace of life quickens and becomes more complex, we yearn for something deeper, more transformative, and more reflective. We need something to slow us down; give us pause, and allow us to collect our thoughts so that the body and mind can regenerate. Our inner spirit drives us to tap the powers, iconic symbols, and beliefs that have supported and guided people for centuries. We seek the goal of inner peace as a buffer against the complexity of modern times. Samuel Thomas

In this exhibition, Samuel Thomas highlights the art pieces he created in journeying to places of power around the world, including the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Kenya, Temple of Kuglacan in Mexico, and Niagara Falls. He created art works at each of these sites, using materials purchased locally. Although each piece incorporates imagery and symbols from the place it was created, they are coherent in vision, representing the social connection, spiritual principles and traditional beadwork techniques of the artist. Each piece is mind-blowing in its conception and beauty, especially this one created in Egypt which is my favourite.

Sam Thomas kindly answered endless questions about his work and seemed to be quite embarrassed by the many compliments he heard that afternoon. But what I took away with me was something which I might easily have overlooked. On one of the explanatory panels, he stated:

Power places have a natural eloquence that is always beautiful and always inspirational, however, of all the sacred power places on the planet, the hardest one to reach is inside our self. (Samuel Thomas)

I think it is worth repeating the hardest [sacred power place] to reach is inside our self.  It was that statement that sent me on the journey of creating artwork based on my mother's dresses. Where that project will end up, I'm not sure but I know it is probably one of the most important art projects I'll ever undertake. And so I must offer up my thanks to Samuel Thomas.

Power of Place - Strength of Being
An Exhibition by Samuel Thomas
Grimsby Museum,
6 Murray Street, Grimsby, Ontario
Ongoing until March 31, 2010
And then traveling....